Monday, October 20, 2008

Que Sera Sera

It's amazing how much easier it is to watch a loss when you write off all chance of a victory before the game ever starts. I was only half heatedly watching the game, and so I wasn't so crushed when Nick Sheridan came in and the game exploded. I think a loss to Penn State was also easier to take given the way the last nine games have gone. I don't think any Michigan fan in their wildest dreams thought when the Knitknees joined the league that we would dominate them the way we have. We knew they had to win one eventually. This seemed like as good a year as any.

There were some positives in the game, mostly regarding the offense. Surprisingly enough, several of my pre-game thoughts were right on the money:
"First, Threet has to stay healthy. We couldn't beat Pioneer High with Sheridan, we need Threet." --unfortunately we got to find out just how true that statement is.
"Secondly, the offensive line has to get better. Simply put, its hard to run any offense if you can't block anyone." - They did do better, at least in the first half. I thought the much maligned duo of Molk and Mooseman looked much better than in past games. The interior line play looked so good at one point, that I wondered if they had moved Schilling inside.
"I'd like to see more of the other running backs other than McGuffie. Don't get me wrong, I love Sam, but I think a change of pace would help offset some of the other issues." - Boy, I was kinda just guessing here, and I was really thinking about Shaw. The emergence of Minor (and his lack of fumbles) was a very pleasant surprise. Hopefully he can keep that up the rest of the year
"I think the long hand off (quick throw to WR who stays at the line) is there almost every play. It should be an automatic, if the CB is more than 10 yards off the line, toss it out there." - They actually ran this play and it worked a few times.
"Some deep shots, provided Threet is in. For the most part, the outside receivers have been single covered, and the safeties have been crowding the line of scrimmage." - Not a lot of this, but Threet's elbow might have had something to do with this. I think this is the key next week against the Sparties.

Despite the second half meltdown, I think that if Threet stays healthy, they could have a mediocre, or maybe even average offense. Unfortunately, for all of the steps forward the offense is taking, I think the defense and special teams are taking steps backward. The linebacker play is still awful, and the tackling from everyone except the D line has been junior varsity level. It seems the recipe to beat Michigan is simple: double the DTs and make the LBs make reads. The special teams are a complete and utter joke. It seems to me that the easiest thing for a coach to work on is decision making (i.e not running the ball out of the end zone when you fumble it 7 yards deep), and blocking on punts. It doesn't seem like these things are being taught. All the explosive skill position talent doesn't do you any good if you can't execute the basics.

-Elsewhere, I think that temptation on the part of some in reaction to the MSU-OSU game is to say, "Same old Spartans" This misses the point. It was unrealistic to expect the Spartans to jump from where they were to all of a sudden be a top ten team. They have to learn to walk before they can run. The only thing that game told us is that it's the same old Buckeye team. The Buckeyes have looked rather pedestrian all year, not scoring an offensive TD against Purdon't, beating Troy by only 12, and Minnesota by only 13. This game proved that they are still the best team in the Big Ten, and the Knitknees better be prepared for a donnybrook when they go down to Columbus.
-The Texas dismantling of Missouri was even more impressive than their win over Oklahoma. Will Muschamp is looking like a brilliant hire. I wonder if there is another program in the country that has as many built in advantages as Texas (weather, population base, facilities, name recognition, fan support, etc.) I also like the look of the addition at DKR, it was only half done when we went down there last year.
-How bad must it suck to be a Seattle area sports fan now? The Mariners lost 100 games, the Sonics moved to Oklahoma, the Seahawks are 1-5 and Washington and Washington State will likely be a combined 1-21 when they meet for the Apple Cup in November, with the lone win a Wazzou win over 2-4 FCS "powerhouse" Portland State. No truth to the rumor that Rich Rod is trying to get both on the schedule for the end of this year.